Posted by: Craig Woolheater on October 20th, 2011
I was contacted a few days ago by a person associated with this new tech venture.
I noticed that you guys have written up a few things about the film Boggy Creek, and I wanted to give you the heads up that it will be streaming on prescreen.com this Thursday, Oct. 20.
I think this is something that would get your audiences really excited!
Let me know if you have any questions!Stephanie Cooper
Here’s the trailer…
Watch Boggy Creek in its entirety at Prescreen here!
You do have to register, or connect with facebook.
What is Prescreen you ask?
If Groupon-style online marketing worked for spas and hair salons, could it also work for movies? Start-up Prescreen is a new website for people to discover and watch independent films online.
While it is different in many ways from Groupon, one way it is similar is that Prescreen sends an email to subscribers with one item per day–in this case a movie. Prescreen curates the movies and finds top quality movies, says Shawn Bercuson, founder and CEO at Prescreen, former vice president of business development at Groupon and former principal at Groupon investor Lightbank. While there are many places to find movies online, Prescreen is providing a more curated experience, Bercuson says. “There are a lot of places to buy movies out there such as iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon–which are great,” Bercuson says. “But there are also hard-to-find smaller titles you might be really interested in and you didn’t know existed.”
Prescreen, which raised $1 million in seed financing from Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive, Ed Cluss, Auren Hoffman of Rapleaf, Saad Khan of CMEA Capital and Bercuson, is useful both for independent filmmakers and for distributors looking to market a new title, Bercuson says. For smaller films with non-Hollywood marketing budgets Prescreen is an affordable way to market a film–Bercuson calls it “blockbuster exposure on an indie budget.” Some of the films haven’t had a theatrical release while some already have but didn’t reach their full markets. Bercuson says, “It’s a good way for content owners or distributors to get good marketing exposure and distribution.”
While Prescreen is different from Groupon–there is no requirement to reach a certain number of purchases and it is not necessarily a discount website–there is a social aspect to the site as there is with Groupon. The first 5% of people who purchase each movie get their money back as a credit to watch their next movie. This is an incentive for people to be the first to discover a movie–and also an incentive for people to get their friends to buy, since more people buying means it’s more likely that early purchasers will be part of the first 5%. “Everyone likes to be the first to discover a band,” Bercuson says. “You can say, ‘I knew them at the local bar.’ And the last person (to watch) is always incentivized to share.”
Because Prescreen only takes a percentage of actual purchases of movies, Prescreen operates on a performance basis and content owners only pay if they make money. On the first day a title is posted on Prescreen the film costs $4 to watch. Afterwards the price goes up. This is to create an incentive to buy early and build buzz for the films. Prescreen only shows the films for 60 days so it allow for other distribution methods afterwards. Prescreen takes submissions of movies, but is selective since it only has 365 films per year, Bercuson says. He looks for well received films, or films with known stars that haven’t reached their full potential for whatever reason. The films can range from dramas to documentaries to comedies.
Prescreen is trying to fill a gap for funding for films between getting films produced and then getting larger mainstream distribution, Bercuson says. Unless you’re an award winner at Sundance or a similar festival there are not many great options. Bercuson, a former venture capitalist, likens this to the venture industry where there are lots of early stage funding options but few beyond that. “What’s missing there is the Series A,” Bercuson says. “We hope to do that with exposure though not necessarily with dollars. We can provide some hidden gems (for consumers) then who knows what will happen.”
While other forms of media have moved online, such as music and short form video, long-form movies have not yet. “Long-form video and movies have been passed by in online publishing,” Bercuson says. “What we’re trying to do is take these tools with digital distribution and publishing and bring that to film.”Tomio Geron